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WWF WrestleMania III
by Scrooge McSuck
Bigger, Better, Badder...
- And the truck keeps on going, as we're up to WrestleMania III. Sadly, there's still more than a dozen, so I'm glad I've had most of the first ones reviewed before, so I can just rephrase a lot of crap. To try and one-up the previous WrestleMania, McMahon decided to try and sell-out the Pontiac Silverdome, and did so, with an announced attended of 93,173. Don't bother bringing up the other number, since it's just a bunch of smart fans trying to prove they have no life by disecting every single thing, to the point everyone is debating a fucking attendance number. OOOH! That'll teach McMahon! WE CAN ADD!
- Live from the Pontiac Silverdome in the great state of Michigan, originally broadcasted live on Pay-Per-View on March 29th, 1987. Vince McMahon welcomes everyone to the show before throwing it to Aretha Franklyn to sing America the Beautiful. Commentary is handled once again by Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura, a tradition that would go on through WrestleMania VI.
The Can-Am Connection vs. The Magnificent Muraco & Bob Orton Jr. (w/ Mr. Fuji):
I'm getting sick of saying this, but for those unfamiliar with the Can-am's, they're Rick Martel and everyone's favorite never-was crybaby, Tom Zenk. Muraco and Orton started teaming up when they turned on Piper in the Fall of '86, but that partnership wasn't meant to last long. The Can-Am's control the majority of the match with plenty of quick double-team moves to keep the crowd going, and rarely work in restholds. The heels spend very little time with their heat-segment on Zenk, which is a plus in my books, since Muraco was never that good of a worker to begin with, and they are a pretty random tag team with very little chemistry. As usual with tag team matches, all hell breaks loose, and a hot finish leads to Martel pinning Muraco with a cross-body press with a little help from Zenk in a nealing position, at 5:37. Good match to open the show with that kept the crowd pumped. Not a classic or anything, but it was the right choice to go with. The Can-Am's would go on to split up in the Summer of '87, which lead to Martel joining forces with Tito Santana, and the heels ended up splitting, with Muraco becoming the surprise babyface. (**1/4)
Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules (w/ Bobby Heenan):
It's that time again for everyone's favorite feud... who is stronger and does a better [finishing move name here]. In this case it's the Full Nelson, although I'm pretty sure Hercules' finisher was actually a version of the Torture Rack (called a back breaker, by the WWF announce team). Since the last WrestleMania, Hercules had changed managers TWICE. Blassie retired and gave his contract to the recently debuted Slick, who then sold him to Heenan for cash (he wouldn't accept a check). Hercules would then be "sold" to Dibiase, triggering a face run, then once again went under the managment of Slick when he formed Power & Glory with Paul Roma, and naturally, no one remembered.
There I go rambling with worthless information again. Your usual shit match between these two, since the only actual wrestling move performed is the Full Nelson, and everything else is punch-kick-shitty clothesline. Bad match, but not negative stars bad. Haynes manages to apply the Full Nelson towards the end of the match, but Hercules grabs the ropes, causing both men to spill out of the ring, and we get a Double Count-Out at 7:52. Afterwards, Haynes tries to take his frustrations out on Heenan, but Herc' makes the save and busts him open with his chain. Shitty blade job there, Billy Jack. In short, a bad match, but someone kicking Haynes' ass is worth a small boost. (1/2*)
Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver, The Haiti Kid vs. King Kong Bundy, Lord Littlebrook, Little Tokyo:
Wow, how the mighty have fallen. At WrestleMania 2, Bundy headlined the show in a World Title match with Hulk Hogan. A year later, and he's stuck in a third from the bottom comedy match with midgets and a Hillbilly. And people wonder why he was barely a threat to Hogan the year previous. As mentioned, this is your typical midgets match, with some comedy spots from the little people, and a crappy "wrestling" sequence from the two normal sized wrestlers. The high spot of the match is Bundy beating up Little Beaver, who had been pestering Bundy throughout the match. This, of course, makes Jesse Ventura mark out, and Bob Uecker plays it on commentary is if Bundy had killed the Beaver (not Jerry Mathers). Disqualification win for the Hillbilly team at 4:22. Not at all a good match, but not entirely worthless, either. Midgets getting beat up is always an entertaining thing to see. (1/2*)
The Junkyard Dog vs. King Harley Race (w/ Bobby Heenan & Fabulous Moolah):
I have no clue how this came to be, other than a Saturday Night's Main Event match a month or so earlier that had a cop-out finish. Stipulation of the match: The loser has to bow to the winner. I also have no clue why Moolah is with Race, other than the WWF to put together the two oldest people on the roster to create Geriatric Park. At this point in their careers, JYD was the equivilant of 1989 Andre the Giant in the terms of workrate, and Harley Race's style was too slow to get over in the WWF (and he was past his prime, too). Thankfully, the match is only booked to go a few minutes, as Race pins the JYD at 3:22. following a belly-to-belly suplex after a bunch of punching and headbutts that really influenced workers of today like... uh... no one. After the match, JYD does a girlish bow, then bashes Race with a folding chair for good measure. What a role model! (DUD)
The Rougeau Brothers vs. The Dream Team (w/ Johnny V & Dino Bravo):
(Jacques & Raymond vs. Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake)
These two teams must've fought a hundred teams in 1987, and the hell if I can remember why. I know the Rougeau's were teaming with a soon-to-be-turned Beefcake to feud with the New Dream team, but that's after this. Speaking of soon-to-be-turned, heel miscommunication occured a few weeks back, which saw Adrian Adonis "accidentally" cut Beefcake's hair. Dino Bravo had recently returned the the WWF, and even more recently bleached his hair blonde. Standard match between these two teams, but pretty rushed thanks to the large card. Neither team pulls out any stand-out moves or sequences, and the finish comes out of nowhere as Dino Bravo sneaks in the ring to bop Jacques, allowing Valentine to make the cover at 4:07. After the match, Valentine and Bravo leave Beefcake in the ring for some unknown reason. I guess they were tired of his sucking up to Hulk Hogan all of the time. (*1/4)
Hair vs. Hair Match:
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper vs. "Adorable" Adrian Adonis (w/ Jimmy Hart):
This is being billed as Roddy Piper's "Retirment Match", and being wrestling fans, I'm sure we all know by now that Piper has retired and had his last match about 8 times in the WWF alone. Piper turned face in the Fall of 1986 when Adonis took over the timeslot for Piper's Pit with his "Flower Shop" segment, which lead to Piper's former lacky Bob Orton to turn on him, which lead to Piper destroying the Flower Shop set with a baseball bat, which lead to this. At this point of his career, Adonis was a fat mess, and it's hard to get into his matches, and Piper was never a good wrestler. However, the crowd is into this like it were the main event, and that's always a good thing. Both men whip each other with Piper's strap until they go into a more boring fighting sequence. Adonis cheats to control, but after applying the Good Night Irene sleeper, lets go of the hold after Piper's arm drops a second time... ZUH?! Out of nowhere comes Brutus Beefcake to revive Piper, who surprises Adonis with his Sleeper hold of his own, and that puts Adonis down and out at 6:08. Beefcake returns after the match and performs the haircut promised to the loser of the match. Yep, this is what triggered Beefcake adopting the Barber Gimmick. Another post-match note is some crazy/drunk fan hopping the rail to congratulate Piper, and being quickly taken away by security. Like most Piper matches, this wasn't good from a technical stand point, but the angle around the match and Piper's off-the-wall intensity brings the rating up. This also marked the last notable Adonis appearence in the WWF, as he left the company about a month later. (*1/2)
The British Bulldogs & Tito Santana vs. The Hart Foundation & Danny Davis (w/ Jimmy Hart):
Rather famous storyline here that I partially covered in the WrestleMania 2 review. As mentioned before, the Foundation took advantage of a seriously injured Dynamite Kid on the 2/7/87 Superstars, and with the help of Danny Davis looking away at the constant double teaming and Davey Boy pin attempts, managed to steal the titles away from them. Santana was inserted into this because of the coincidence that Danny Davis was the referee for the match where Santana lost the IC Title to Savage in February '86. Over the course of the next few weeks following the Tag Title change, Davis continued to referee, favoring the heels, until Jack Tunney made his appearence felt, as he suspended Davis for life PLUS 10 years as a referee. OOOOH! You the man, Tunney! In response to this, Jimmy Hart took Davis under his wing and with the help of the Foundation, "trained" him to wrestle, and this is his first big match (or maybe first match, period).
To say the crowd is into this would be a gross understatement. Despite Dynamite Kid being a shell of his former 'self at this point, the match is still pretty good but 1987 standards, and Santana carries the weight of his team well with DK's obvious decline. As always in these matches, the non-wrestler never tags in unless the opponent is incapable of defending himself, so the heel tags in, punches him a few times, then tags out 5 seconds later. The formula repeats for a while until the heels get too cocky, and Santana gets the hot tag while Davis is the legal man in. Saying the babyfaces beat the ever loving shit out of Davis to insane face reactions would be another understatement. Every face gets their signature moves in, including DK killing Davis with a tombstone piledriver and Davey Boy follows with the running powerslam. Too bad the Hart Foundation run a foul, and a microphone shot to the back of Davey Boy's head allows an out of it Davis to put an arm over his chest, and win the match at 8:51. The Foundation/Bulldogs would continue their on-and-off feud until Strike Force came out of nowhere to win the straps in October. Very good match with tons of energy and one of the best storylines of the year wrapped into it. At this point, probably the best WrestleMania match, but it would be broken later in the show. (***1/2)
Koko B. Ware vs. "The Natural" Butch Reed (w/ Slick):
It's probably just me, but why are the only two black wrestlers on the card IN THE SAME MATCH? (Editor's Note: JYD vs. Harley Race?)
I seem to remember Butch Reed cutting promos on Tito Santana leading up to this show, but I guess the roster was spread thin again, and Koko was left without a match. Now that I think about it, the only people not in matches were tag teams like the Killer Bees, Demolition, Kamala & Sika, and of course, Paul Orndorff, who wasn't a tag wrestler. More on him later, as we head to the match... which is pretty much, to steal a joke from someone else, Punch-a-Mania III. The crowd is pretty much dead for the first time in the show, but probably because of the energy put into the last encounter. This one just drags along for a few minutes until Reed uses the momentum of a cross body to hook Koko's tights and pick up the win at 3:39. After the match, Tito Santana runs in to beat up on Slick and rip off his ugly tuxedo. Worthless time filler. (DUD)
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
"Macho Man" Randy Savage © (w/ Elizabeth) vs. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat (w/ George Steele):
Qucik set-up for this match: On an episode of Superstars a few months back, Randy Savage injured Steamboat by coming off the top rope to land an axehandle, and in the process, driving Steamboat's throat into the security railing. A bell shot to the throat would add insult to injury. Now Steamboat is out for revenge, and cuts a pretty good pissed off promo before the match. Steele is in Steamboat's corner, just for the fact he STILL was feuding with Savage, nearly 15 months after it began. I won't bore anyone with detailed commentary, but this was a great exhibition of chain wrestling and Steamboat always seemed to have better matches (than usual) when working the "I'm fucking pissed off at someone and now I'm kicking their ass" storyline. He did it with Muraco and Roberts in 1985-86, and delivered in those series of matches too. Although I still consider it a great match, I can't really give it the 5-star treatment anymore, because honestly, I don't feel it. In short, it hasn't aged too well, in my opinion. After a handful of near-falls (about 19, to be exact), we get a ref' bump, and usually that means the heel is going to cheat to win. In this case, George Steele runs a foul of the rules, knocking Savage off the top rope while attempting to use the ring bell on Steamboat. Savage tries to salvage the screwing, but Steamboat counters a slam attempt with a small package, and Steamboat ends Savage's 13 month reign as champion at 14:35. Easily the best WrestleMania match for years to come, and each time there was a better, it always seemed to include Randy Savage. Steamboat's reign as champ wouldn't last long though, as Vince got ticked off at Steamboat requesting time off during the time he was drawing money, and dropped the title out of nowhere to the Honkytonk Man. Steamboat would leave the company for a while in '87 after the loss, missing most of August through October, and coming out of nowhere to be on Randy Savage's Survivor Series Team. (****)
Jake "The Snake" Roberts (w/ Alice Cooper) vs. The Honkytonk Man (w/ Jimmy Hart):
As usual with the WWE, history has been retold that both men were tweeners going into the match. I guess we sould ignore the Vote of Confidence poll for Honky in NOVEMBER of 1986, and Roberts had turned in February, doing matches with King Kong Bundy before going into this feud, which was triggered by Honky busting Roberts over the head with a guitar, and causing a pretty bad injury to Roberts since the guitar wasn't gimmicked. Much like Ware/Reed, the crowd isn't exactly into this, but isn't completely dead. Very average match, since Roberts usually made a big game in promos rather than in matches, and Honky always sucked, outside of a random miracle carry job here and there. The finish kind of comes out of nowhere, as Honky prevents being hit with the DDT, and uses the ropes to roll Roberts up for the victory at 7:04. After the match, Roberts and Cooper scare Honky off and release Damian to torment Jimmy Hart, who probably wished he wore black pants for this match. Overall a bit too long in the tooth for what they were going with, and they had an impossible act to follow. ( * )
The Killer Bees (w/ Jim Duggan) vs. Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Sheik (w/ Slick):
More time filler, since I don't recall a program between the Bees and the Evil Foreigners. Jim Duggan is only in the Bees corner because he was pissed off that Volkoff kept singing the Russian national anthem in the United States, and did everything he could from preventing it, including cutting the cable to the microphone, or the tired and true formula of beating him up. On to the match, and again, it's surprisingly decent, since the Bees were never known for being great at carrying other teams, and Volkoff & Sheik suck. After a few minutes of the heels controling, all hell breaks loose... again! The Sheik manages to trap Brunzell in the Camel Clutch, but Jim Duggan chases Volkoff in the ring, and suddenly smashes the Sheik across the back with his 2x4, triggering a Disqualification against the Killer Bees at 5:42. Wow, the former Tag Team Champions and a former World Champion couldn't even beat the Killer Bees without a lame finish? (**)
WWF World Championship Match:
Hulk Hogan © vs. Andre The Giant (w/ Bobby Heenan):
After over three hours of action, it's time for the Main Event! Hogan had been dominating the WWF scene for over three years at this point, holding the World Title since January of '84, and going all that time without being pinned or submitting. Andre had also been booked strong, going "undefeated" for 15 years, but never getting a shot at the World Title. Enter Bobby Heenan, who brainwashed Andre into thinking Hogan was holding him down, and thus turning Andre a heel in the process, despite being one of the most over and loved wrestlers on the roster up until that point. I don't think the WWF mentioned it, but Andre owns several pinfall wins over Hogan from 1980, including the Showdown at Shea card held that year. Interesting tidbit that may or may not be true: Andre was in horrible condition at this point in his career, and rumors are if he wasn't able to "go" the day of the show, Paul Orndorff was waiting in the wings as a suitable replacement, which explains his absence from the card, and the fact he was active the week before and after the PPV.
TIME FOR MORE CELEBRITIES! Special timekeeper for the match is Mary Hart (no relation to the other Harts), and doing the introductions is everyone's favorite star from the Major League Series, Mr. Baseball himself, Bob Uecker. After all the introductions are done, we get the famous staredown between the two, and moments later, Hogan fails a slam attempt, causing Andre to land on top of him for a 2.9999 count. The rest of the match is nothing to write home about, and is possibly the worst match on the workrate scale in the history of WrestleMania main events, but the fact it was at the time the biggest and most important match in wrestling history saves it from the junk pile. After a lot of nothing and very slow periods of "wrestling", Hogan does an untraditional hulk up, and in yet another famous moment, manages to slam Andre the Giant, and in the process tear pretty much every muscle in his back. One leg drop later, and Hogan slays the undefeated giant to retain the championship at 12:07. Hogan celebrates with his new World Championship belt as the show comes to an end. (1/2*)
Final Thoughts: Although I disagree with the "best WrestleMania ever" audience, the three main programs heading into the show (Andre/Hogan, Savage/Steamboat, and Piper/Adonis) all delivered in some way, wether it be for emotional purposes or workrate. Also on the card is a very good 6-Man tag and almost every tag match on the show is an enjoyable waste of 5-6 minutes each. The only downside is the Midgets, Race/JYD, and Koko/Reed, but all three of those combined for less than 15 minutes. Strong Recommendation.
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